In a stunning reversal, the prosecution in the public corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday requested to amend the indictment.
According to the request, the state will back off from giving an exact week when an alleged key meeting took place between Netanyahu and key prosecution witness Shlomo Filber. Instead, it will claim the meeting took place without giving a date other than saying it was around the time when Filber was appointed Communications Ministry director-general.
The reversal comes after last week’s win by the defense when they used a mix of GPS cellphone location data as well as data from Prime Minister’s Office security clearance records to demonstrate that Filber could not have met with Netanyahu at the time that the prosecution said a critical meeting took place.
The revelation might be the single most important factual victory by the defense to date in undermining aspects of the prosecution’s narrative.
According to GPS data presented by Netanyahu defense lawyer Boaz Ben Tzur to the Jerusalem District Court last week, former top Netanyahu aide Filber was at a family celebration and at a business meeting at the time when, according to the prosecution, he was having a key meeting with Netanyahu over the alleged media bribery scheme.
In addition, the defense presented documents from Prime Minister’s Office security clearance records indicating that Filber, who was Communications Ministry director-general at the time, did not visit the PMO during the first week in June 2015.
In fact, according to these records, Filber’s first visit to the PMO in the month of June 2015 was on June 15.
Netanyahu’s defense lawyers said this proved that the infamous June 2015 meeting – in which Netanyahu was said to have given Filber the order to assist with the Bezeq regulatory aspects of the Case 4000 Bezeq-Walla Affair – never happened.
Further, when confronted with this new data on Wednesday, Filber backpedaled, saying even when he had testified that this early June 2015 meeting did happen, he came up with the date based on an analysis of other meetings he had later in June and not based on direct memory of the date itself.
Even if the defense cannot solely with these pieces of evidence prove that Netanyahu never gave Filber instructions to assist with the media bribery scheme, simply by proving that the meeting might not have happened until June 15 could radically change how other meetings Filber had with other individuals will be viewed by the court.
The prosecution has said all other meetings Filber had in June 2015 should be viewed chronologically in light of Netanyahu already having given his former top aide standing orders.
Also, the prosecution has maintained that Netanyahu and Filber met both in late May and multiple times in June. As such, the exact dating of the meeting when Netanyahu gave Filber the order to assist with the alleged media bribery scheme was not critical as long as the judges accept that Filber is telling the truth that he was given such an order, according to the prosecution.
Netanyahu released a statement later on Sunday calling to "put an end to the prosecution's attacks" on him.
"For two years, the prosecution hid unequivocal evidence refuting its claims from the public and the court," the statement, attributed to Netanyahu's circle, said. "They will not rest until they get Netanyahu's head."